Twenty years ago I was patrolling the surrounding villages of Sarajevo, Bosnia-Hercegovina. And that’s when I saw him. He was a young boy, probably about the same age as my youngest son, William (7), yet he didn’t look like much of a child. He had no sparkle in his eyes; his face was expressionless, he moved methodically – practically dragging his feet. And then there was his hair. It was grayish white with random bald spots as if someone had haphazardly pulled out clumps of his hair. Yet this child wasn’t alone; there were other children like this one roaming this bombed-out suburb of Sarajevo. Our translator explained that many children had been forced to watch their parents be brutally murdered, and the stress of these situations had not only emotionally affected them but also physically changed them like losing their hair and changing its color.
I offer up this story only to give you perspective when you’re having a rough day as a parent. God only knows I’ve thought of this child on more than a few occasions while raising my four boys. No matter how bad it gets like the time one of my boys threw a sippy cup at our brand-new TV shattering the “flat” screen or another one who used permanent marker on the walls or all four of them purposely not listening to their mother…and I could go on, as I’m sure you can as well, but the fact is we’re damn lucky parents to have healthy children who aren’t growing up in a war zone (okay, sometimes it might feel like a war zone!).
I hope this Father’s Day, you took a moment to understand what’s really important. I suspect you will come to realize that there is no better gift than having a healthy family, where your children have those sparks glowing brightly in their eyes.
Their faces are full of emotion, there’s pep in their step, and the only hair they are missing is because they decided to give themselves or their siblings a haircut (or just maybe, you’re like us, and shaved their head because you’re sick and tired of combing for lice for the tenth time this school year!).
Wishing a Happy Father’s Day every day to all you Dads out there, and embrace every minute you get with your family!
This post was originally published on LinkedIn.